What the Kevin Garnett for Thaddeus Young Trade Means for the Timberwolves and Nets
It has been eight years since the Minnesota Timberwolves last made the NBA playoffs.
Coincidentally, it has also been eight years since the Timberwolves traded away their franchise player, Kevin Garnett. Garnett played 12 seasons in Minnesota, during which he became the franchise's leader in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
To make the deal work, Garnett had waived his no-trade clause, allowing the franchise that once drafted him straight out of high school to trade away 26-year old Thaddeus Young to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for the now one-time NBA champion.
The trade allows for both players to reunite with franchise figureheads, as Garnett heads back to play for Flip Saunders, his coach for 10 years with the Timberwolves, and Young heads back to play for general manager, Billy King, who drafted him while in the Philadelphia 76ers front office.
From a per-game box score perspective, here is what the trade deadline exchange looks like.
So what does this swap mean for both teams?
At 12-42, last in the Western Conference, and 28th in the our power rankings with a nERD of 22.3, the Timberwolves are obviously in a rebuilding stage. With a roster that includes nine first- and second-year players, including four who are 21 years and younger, the Timberwolves have a chance to develop a group of players that are projected to make an impact on the franchise (hopefully sometime soon), with the hopes of getting back into the playoffs.
Garnett, a 15-time All-Star known for his tenacity and leadership, might be able to help.
The Timberwolves franchise is in a perfectly bad position to part ways with a young, energetic, power-forward, who produces more points and can play more minutes, in exchange for a on-the-way-out veteran who is producing well below his normal averages, but makes up for his game outside of the box score.
It's no real surprise that Garnett's analytical impact isn't quite what it used to be, and in his tenure with the Nets, his Offensive Rating has been just 95. It was 110 prior to joining the Nets. However, since 1971-1972, only 18 other players 38-years and older averaged more points per game than Garnett currently is, suggesting he is playing at a high level for his age.
As I said before, the most significant benefit of adding Garnett cannot be calculated in the box score, only reflected in how other players preform around him. Ever since his days as a veteran on the Timberwolves, Garnett has been one of the hardest working players on the team. His work ethic and leadership capabilities also followed him to Boston, where it was well known that he provided mentorship to younger players.
The Timberwolves won't be seeing any huge results on the court from Garnett, whose individual nERD is just -0.6, which indicates he's slightly below league-average in efficiency.
What, though, do the Nets get out of the deal?
At 22-31, the Brooklyn Nets are currently holding the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Hard to believe, right?
Keeping positive, the Nets are likely hoping they have just acquired the Thaddeus Young of the past and not the present. Last year, in Young's most recent full season with the Philadelphia 76ers, he contributed career-high numbers in 79 games, posting 17.9 points and 2.1 steals per game. This year, Young has been a part of a team currently in the rebuilding process and one that competes in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, two components that likely are impacting his current statistics.
This year, Young has a nERD score of -4.7, which ranks 120th out of 140 qualified players in the league. In his first game with the Nets, Young provided 8 points, 4 rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 12 minutes, so his role is still uncertain, but if he can get back to the efficiency of his earlier career (he averaged a 4.8 nERD from 2010-11 to 2012-13), then he could provide a spark for a team fighting for the playoffs.
But let's be real, although the Nets have a shot at the playoffs, our algorithms predict that they have a 0.00% chance to win the NBA Championship. They have yet to beat the Cavaliers and Hawks this year and have beat the Bulls only once. Additionally, adding the extremely ineffeicient Young at the trade deadline actually decreased their playoff odds, but the injury to Chris Bosh could open the window for them.
What To Look For
Don't expect an instant impact during the remainder of the season by the Timberwolves. Rather, Garnett's impact will likely be seen in the following NBA seasons, depending on how long he plans to play before retiring. One player in particular to pay attention to is former number one draft pick, Anthony Bennett, who has only displayed signs of being the next NBA bust.
As for the Nets, there is a window in the form of the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference -- or even the 7 seed if the Heat struggle. The move doesn't necessarily help the long-term prospect of the Nets if Young can't start to be the more efficient player he was in years past, but if he does, his impact might be felt sooner rather than later.